BUCKTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newradio) — The Navy leadership development program at a Montgomery County high school has earned international recognition.
Some six years ago, the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps’ program at Owen J. Roberts High School was barely on life support.
Now, it has been recognized as the most improved of more than 580 high school Navy programs in the U.S. and overseas.
Retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Andrew Worley, a decorated Vietnam veteran who has been overseeing the Junior ROTC program at Owen J the past few years, said he can’t take all the credit.
“We made it a big family and from there on it was just the little things we started putting together,” Worley said. “The unit used to close down in June and open up in September. We go all year round.”
Retired Navy Capt. Craig Armstrong, a senior instructor with the unit, says the honor was well deserved.
“It is such a tribute to the parents and the students, the cadets,” Armstrong said.
Worley concurred with Armstrong’s assessment.
“And, if I had to sum it all up, the real reason all this worked out was support,” Worley said.
Alison Scott, a recent Owen J. Roberts graduate, spent four years with the program and climbed to the rank of chief petty officer.
“I got a lot of opportunities through here,” Scott said. “So, I got a lot of ribbons and awards for my uniform which stood out. And, I then I got a lot of community service hours and volunteering hours.”
All of which she believes played a role in her admission to Bloomsburg University where she begins studies in the fall.
Worley helped to rebuild the program it into an active service organization that gives back to the community.
He said it also attracted academically-motivated students in recent years.
“We had a lot of National Honor Society,” Worley said. “We had several go to the military academies. We had quite a few go for the ROTC scholarships.”
Kaylie Minehart, who joined the unit last year, will serve as chief of supply as she enters her sophomore year this fall.
Minehart said she likes the family atmosphere of the ROTC group and is considering a military career.
“I want to go into the Navy, hopefully subs,” Minehart said.
Owen J. Roberts principal Ken Napaver says the program is offering the students skills they can take into the real world.
“That’s one thing the ROTC program does give them is the capability to have some perseverance, have some grit, have the opportunity to collaborate and work together,” Napaver said.
The unit expects an enrollment of more than 100 cadets when school resumes in the fall.
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